The Final Scene looks at the last few minutes of some of the most well-known movies of the past fifty years. This week, it's Rob Reiner and Nora Ephron's romantic comedy, 'When Harry Met Sally'...
There's a reason why 'When Harry Met Sally' resonates with a lot of people, and still does to this day. If anyone's been in a long-term relationship - or even ended up getting married - to someone that they previously knew, they can relate to this.
So much of relationships are about veneers and putting up guards. First dates are like interviews. You can't very well go in, fully expecting someone to accept you and every single one of your quirks and weirdness on the first date. It has to unfold and, then, eventually you decide whether you want to continue with that person.
Friendships, on the other hand, are different. There's less emotional baggage and, on top of that, you're already joined together because you're friends. The likelihood is that if you can tolerate or even enjoy their company, you're going to want to spend time with them whenever you can because, well, they're your friend.
As much as anyone in your life, you can't hide anything from them. It's the same with 'When Harry Met Sally'. Meg Ryan's character has particular tastes about food, preferring coleslaw on the side and taking about ten minutes to order anything. Billy Crystal's character, meanwhile, seems to get himself caught up in knots when talking about the most mundane of topics. On their own, these would probably drive anyone away.
Yet, for these two people, it's enough that they can't hide from each other, and they can't hide themselves. That final scene, when at long last, Billy Crystal's character lays it out flat for Meg Ryan's is the moment of truth for both of them. Up until this point, we've seen them dance around each other, or even try to keep a lid on how they feel.
Everyone around them knows what's happening, even if they don't. That Carrie Fisher and Bruno Kirby seem to think it's obvious when they don't just makes it all the more funny, but what really nails 'When Harry Met Sally' is that last moment.
It's that thing of pointing out the most mundane things that you remember and love in someone, and they can't hide it because that's what really makes them real. 'Good Will Hunting' did something similar, where Robin Williams' character talked about how his dead wife used to fart in her sleep and wake up the dog. In 'When Harry Met Sally', it's Billy Crystal pointing out that little wrinkle in Meg Ryan's eyebrows when she's confused.
That the movie ends with them being interviewed, like the other couples throughout the movie, is a beautiful touch. Like all the other couples throughout the movie, Harry and Sally are no different from them and probably no different from your own relationship. It's full of stupid in-jokes, weird moments and inconsistencies that make it real.
That, when you come right down to it, makes it more potent than any other romantic comedy you can think of. 'Annie Hall', 'Four Weddings and a Funeral', whatever you like - 'When Harry Met Sally' has the gift of experience and realism because just about everyone's got a story just like them and it often ends - or continues - just like theirs.